Gum Disease: Age and Gender

While everyone is vulnerable to gum disease–men, women, and children–research has shown that men tend to have a higher risk of gum disease. Why? Perhaps because they are not seeing a dentist regularly or are not as consistent with good oral hygiene habits. Let’s take a closer look at periodontitis in men, women, and children.


As children enter puberty, they are producing progesterone which causes an increased circulation of blood flow to the gums. This blood flow may invite sensitivity and irritation arising from left-behind plaque and food particles, which is why consistently good oral hygiene is crucial to prevent gum disease. Your child may notice that their gums are increasingly tender, swelling, and bleeding easily or appearing redder than usual. Your teen or young adult is also susceptible to aggressive periodontitis. This form of gum disease typically arises around the primary molars or incisors. Aggressive periodontitis affects the alveolar bone where much of it is lost. This can start around puberty, and the gums can become inflamed and the teeth gradually become loose.


During those times in a woman’s life where gum sensitivity may increase is due to hormonal shifts, such as those experienced during their monthly cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. During this period, the gums may bleed easily, be redder, tender, or swollen. These symptoms can flare up during the days leading up to one’s cycle but dissipate once the cycle begins. Gum disease during pregnancy, called pregnancy gingivitis, places you at greater risk of having a premature birth, and consequently, a lower birth weight baby. This is not the time to skip scheduled professional cleanings and checkups. For women who are menopausal or older, changes in the gums may be noticeable. This arises because of fluctuating estrogen levels in the body. Estrogen can impact a variety of oral tissues, such as the gums, salivary glands, as well as the jawbone. So, you might notice a reduction in saliva production leading to dry mouth, pain in the gums or a burning tongue, tooth loss, and altered taste buds–a change to sour or salty preferences, or not being able to taste sweet things as easily.


Unfortunately, almost twice as many men suffer from gum disease than women. Whether due to not getting regular teeth cleanings or you a reduction in your daily oral hygiene routine, men are often more beset by plaque, tartar, and finding themselves with bleeding gums. Men with prostate inflammation often have more problems with their gums and vice versa. In addition, there is an increased link to heart disease when you have periodontal disease, which makes sense because cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease involve chronic inflammation. And it’s not just the prostate and the heart that is affected by periodontal disease. Research indicates that cancer is also more common in men with unhealthy gums. Kidney cancer, cancer of the pancreas and blood cancers are also prevalent in men with periodontal disease.

No matter what category you fit into, be sure to attend your biannual dental visits for an exam and cleaning. If you need further treatment, we are here to help you and your smile. Give us a call today if you have any questions.